Sunday, April 13, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Nanakshahi calendar from today
Lalit Mohan

Anandpur Sahib, April 12
The Nanakshahi calendar will come into force tomorrow. An announcement to this effect will be made during the Baisakhi celebrations to be held at Damdama Sahib tomorrow. Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, president of the SGPC, stated this while talking to this correspondent here today. He was here to chair a meeting of the Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC.

Mr Badungar said with the implementation of the Nanakshahi calendar, the Sikh community will have its own calendar. This calendar would henceforth, be used to decide the dates for the religiously important days of the Sikhs and end the ambiguity regarding the religious days.

When asked in the SGPC would approach the government for rescheduling the holidays as per the Nanakshahi calendar, Mr Badungar said the SGPC would announce the dates of religious days as per the new calendar. It would be upto the government to declare holidays on those days.

On Baisakhi, the SGPC would also announce the establishment of Gurmat College at Beg Sahib gurdwara in Sultanpur Lodhi. The college would train the employees of the gurdwaras about the traditions and rituals to be practised in the religious institutions. Six staff training institutions have been established for the purpose.

In another decision, the SGPC has decided to establish a directorate of education at Chandigarh to manage the education institutions run by it. The SGPC runs 25 colleges and 25 senior secondary schools which are managed by local management committees. But since these committees lack expertise on education, a directorate comprising education experts would be set up.

About today’s meeting of the Dharam Parchar Committee, Mr Badungar said it had decided to decentralise the dharam parchar programme. At present, the work is concentrated at Amritsar and main religious places in other states.

It also decided to start the dharam parchar work at the district headquarters in Punjab. A committee comprising journalists would be formed in all the districts to manage such programmes of the SGPC. These committees would organise seminar, dhari darbars and baptisation programmes at the district levels.

In other states like Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal and Maharashtra, two centres for dharam parchar would be organised in Haryana, Sirsa and Kurukshetra had been selected as dharam parchar centres.

About the change of members of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation, Mr Badungar alleged that it was a part of the anti-Sikh policies being adopted by the Congress government.

He said the promise made by Capt Amarinder Singh regarding the sales tax exemption on food items coming to the Golden Temple had not been fulfilled.


Call Puran Singh at Takht: Bibi Jagir Kaur
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 12
Even as the SGPC is all set to release the Nanakshahi calendar on Baisakhi, Bibi Jagir Kaur, former President of the body, has urged the Sikh clergy to summon Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi of the Golden Temple, at Akal Takht for creating ‘hurdles’ in its implementation in his capacity as Jathedar of Akal Takht four years ago.

During the presidentship of Bibi Jagir Kaur, the general house meeting of the SGPC had implemented the Nanakshahi calendar in 1999, but Giani Puran Singh, the then Jathedar of Akal Takht, directed the SGPC not to implement it till a consensus was reached. However, Bibi Jagir Kaur was “excommunicated” from the Sikh Panth through a controversial edict for the implementation of the calendar despite the directive of Sikh clergy. Later, Giani Puran Singh was sacked as Jathedar of Akal Takht and suspended as priest of the Golden Temple by pro-Bibi Jagir Kaur SGPC executive members.

Bibi Jagir Kaur alleged she was humiliated and removed as SGPC chief under a ‘deep-rooted’ conspiracy for the implementation of the Nanakshahi calendar. She alleged that Giani Puran Singh was adopting ‘double standards’ on this issue by maintaining a studied silence.

Bibi Jagir Kaur said that it was matter of concern that immediately after taking over as SGPC chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi elevated Giani Puran Singh as Head Granthi who did not bother to reply the chargesheet issued to him as granthi of the temple. The former SGPC chief alleged that certain forces had hatched a conspiracy to denigrate the prestige of Akal Takht. During the tenure of Giani Puran Singh as Jathedar of Akal Takht, the validity of ‘hukamnama’ came under the scanner.


Punjab BJP panel to study conversion issue
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 12
The Punjab unit of the BJP at its executive meeting held at Balachaur, 20 km from here today, said the BJP-led coalition government at the Centre had not only provided a stable government but had also made India a nuclear power. The state executive endorsed the Vajpayee government’s proposed move of inter-linking of river waters. Besides, the BJP expressed its concern over the growing trend of conversions of Hindus and Sikhs into Christianity and mushrooming of shepherd’s bastis in border district of Amritsar, Ferozepore and Gurdaspur, which could pose a serious threat to the security of the country. The BJP constituted three committees to study these issues. These committees would submit their reports to Mr S.S. Grewal. Mr Om Parkash Dhankad, national secretary of the BJP, while giving details of the meeting to mediapersons said the Congress had been misleading the people about the VAT.

Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, president of the state unit the BJP criticised the Congress government for its anti-people policies. He said the Congress government in the state had halted all developmental activities and withdrawn the welfare schemes launched by the previous SAD-BJP government. He criticised the government for levying users charges. Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Mr Balram Ji Dass Tandon, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Mr Mohan Lal, Mr Baldev Raj Chawla (all former ministers), Mr Tikshan Sood and Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MLA, Hoshiarpur and Garhshanker, also addressed the meeting.


Issue of conversions tops BJP agenda
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The BJP today put the reported religious conversions and permanent settlement allegedly of certain Bangladeshis and Pakistanis in Punjab area near the Indo-Pakistan border top on its agenda.

While the issue of settlers’ near the border has been taken up with the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L. K. Advani, and the Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, three committees of senior BJP leaders have been set up to collect facts regarding conversions in Ferozepore, Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts.

Wants fee hike withdrawn

The Punjab BJP has urged the state government to withdraw the hike in various fees and other charges levied in the education sector. It has also asked the government to do away with the new user charges levied on various other economic, social and administrative services. The BJP has passed a resolution condemning the hike. Mr Dhankar said that these charges would hit the poor and the middle class.

Addressing a press conference here today, the national secretary of the party, Mr O.P. Dhankar, said that the issues of conversions and settlers were raised at a meeting of the state executive held at Balachaur under the chairmanship of Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, President of the state unit of the party, today.

Mr Dhankar said that party activists brought to his notice that about 10,000 people had settled near the cantonement at Ferozepore, in the recent past. He said Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, general secretary of the Punjab unit of the BJP, had brought the matter to the notice of Mr Advani and Mr Fernandes and asked for a high-level probe to identify the settlers.

Mr Grewal, who was also present at the press conference, said that a senior Punjab police officer had played a key role in getting the people of a particular community settled at Ferozepore. When asked on what basis they were saying that there were certain Pakistani and Bangladeshi among the new settlers near Ferozepore cantonment, Mr Grewal and Mr Dhankar said that they had got the information in this connection from party activists. They said that the emergence of new settlements at strategic points near the border had raised suspicion in their minds. “It was our duty to convey it to the Union Government,” they asserted.

Talking about conversions, Mr Dhankar said party activists had informed him that about 1000 Sikhs had been converted into a particular religion in the past months.” To collect facts in this connection, three committees had been set up under the leadership of Dr Baldev Raj Chawla (Amritsar), Mr Balkrishan Mittal (Gurdaspur) and Mr Ajaybir Singh Sodhi (Ferozepore) districts, respectively. These committees have been asked to submit reports within a month.

Meanwhile, the BJP has instructed its units to complete the organisation elections by September this year in all but four states where assembly elections are to be held later this year, Mr Dhankar said.

He said that the process of enrolment of new members was on in Punjab. Already four lakh members had been enrolled in Punjab against a target of five lakh.

At the district level, the organisational elections would start next month, he added.


Now, BPL wheat diversion scam
Wheat meant for poor sold in open market
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Tapa, April 12
A racket pertaining to the diversion of wheat meant for the below poverty line (BPL) section of society to the open market being allegedly run by depot holders in connivance with officials of Punsup has been unearthed by the local police. Three persons have been arrested in this connection and about 90 quintals of wheat of the same category seized.

Police sources said that the modus operandi was that depot holders would take wheat from Punsup godowns at a subsidised rate (Rs 432 per quintal) for distribution among BPL ration card holders at Rs 4.40 per kg. But instead, they would sell the wheat in the open market at rates ranging from Rs 600 to Rs 625 per quintal.

The local police unearthed the racket on Thursday during a raid on a particular premises and seized about 90 quintals of wheat, which was loaded into two tractor trailers. Preliminary investigations reveal that a flour mill owner had been purchasing this category of wheat at the rate of Rs 625 per quintal which three depot holders had sold to him after getting delivery from Punsup godowns. The involvement of a Punsup functionary is also suspected.

Sources alleged that though the police came under huge political pressure for hushing up the case in which involvement of bigwigs was also suspected, a case was registered against the accused in the local police station under Sections 406, 409 and 120-B of the IPC and Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act.

Mr S.S. Mann, DSP, while confirming the unearthing of the wheat diversion scam, said three accused had been arrested and hunt was on to nab the others involved.

He added that the accused had been minting money by selling in the open market the wheat meant for the poor. They were earning Rs 200 per quintal of wheat this way.

The accused were remanded in police custody when they were produced before the court of the judicial magistrate concerned.


Pro-VC excluded from decision-making body
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 12
For the first time in the history of Punjabi University, its Pro-Vice-Chancellor will not officiate in the absence of the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, has instituted a six-member committee to take all important decisions during his 10-day absence from the varsity from April 11. Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dr R.N. Pal, has been excluded from the committee.

Sources said differences between the Vice-Chancellor and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor which had cropped up at a recent meeting of the varsity’s Syndicate were responsible for the formation of the committee in which the Pro VC does not have any role. Normally the Pro-VC officiates in the VC’s absence. Dr Pal had officiated as VC in November last year.

This time the Vice-Chancellor has ensured that Dr Pal does not have any role to play in the university administration during his absence from the campus. According to the office order issued by the VC a “college” has been formed to take emergency decisions. The order states that all Deans and Directors would continue to attend their work and that a six-member “college” would take policy decisions in case of any emergency.

The six-member team so constituted is Dean, Academic Affairs, Dr U.C. Singh, Dean Colleges, Dr S.P.S. Virdee, Director, Public Relations, Dr B.S. Sandhu, Registrar Dr Param Bakshish Singh, Professor in charge, Examinations, Dr Baldev Singh and Prof H.S. Rose, Professor of Zoology. According to the office order the six-member team would inform the Deputy Registrar or the personal assistant of the Vice-Chancellor of any decision taken by it.

The sources said ambiguity in Section 9aa (5) of the university calendar which defines the powers of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor in the absence of the VC is responsible for the formation of the committee besides differences over earlier decisions taken by the Pro-VC during the absence of the VC. The Act states in case of illness or absence on leave of the VC or in any other contingency, the Pro-VC will preside over meetings of the university and shall exercise such other powers and perform such duties as may be assigned to him by the VC’’.

The sources said a decision which had not gone down well with the VC which was taken in his absence earlier by the Pro-VC was the confirmation of an Assistant Public Relations Officer of the varsity. Despite adverse comments made on the file by the earlier Public Relations Director, Dr G.R. Kataria.

Besides this the sources said the VC and the Pro-VC virtually had a showdown at a meeting of the varsity Syndicate held recently. They said the Pro-VC got up to speak on the issue of confirmation of the appointment of Dr B.S. Mangat as Head, Publications Department, by saying it should be seen whether he was competent for the job or not as he did not have any experience in publishing. The sources said two other Syndicate members MP Preneet Kaur and Deputy Speaker Birdevinder Singh had supported the VC by saying it was his prerogative to take a decision on the issue.


Medical colleges fail to utilise funds
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 12
Three years after the Punjab government hiked user charges in all Government medical and dental colleges in the state and started admitting non-resident Indians, there was no improvement in the condition of the institutions.

The institutions were able to generate crores in revenue, but could not utilise the money and presently Rs 32 crore revenue generated by these is in reserve with the Punjab Government.

The state government had hiked user charges around three years ago in all medical and dental colleges of the state as well as in hospitals attached with them. Besides this, the colleges were allowed to admit non-resident Indians on a very high fee structure.

The government had given an undertaking while starting the scheme that the revenue so generated would be used to develop the infrastructure and facilities in the institutions. It was also made clear that the money would not lapse if it was not used in the financial year concerned like the other aid of the government.

Three years later and one year after the Congress government took over the reins of the state, the scheme remains on paper only. The institutions have not been able to benefit from the scheme as the rules governing purchase remain the same and the institutions have continuously been frustrated in their attempts to purchase the required machinery and goods.

This year the local Government Medical College could not purchase Radioactive material for its Radiology Department. The material, which costs around Rs 40 lakh, is the core of the machine used for chemotherapy for cancer patients.

The radiology Department, which attracts a number of cancer patients from the Malwa area and which was offering treatment at half the cost of private institutions, has been unable to do so for nearly one and a half years due to depletion of its radioactive material.

Sources said the purchase fell through as the government asked that the actual vouchers for the sale be provided, which was not possible as the Bhabha Atomic Centre, which was to supply the material, would do so only after the money was sent to it.

Similarly, the medical college has not been able to carry out the first major repair and renovation job in more than a decade because of government conditions on payment.

While the government wants the bills for the work done, the PWD Department refuses to do the work unless it is paid a substantial amount of money. The medical college had earlier made an estimate of Rs 3.5 crore for civil works and it was decided to depute the work to the PWD Department.

The Director, Research and Medical Education, Dr Ravinder Singh, said a substantial amount of the money collected by the medical and dental institutions besides money of ayurvedic and nursing colleges, was in reserve with the government as it could not be utilised till now.

He said his department had recently proposed a new scheme to ensure speedy utilisation of this money which was more than Rs 32 crore. He said the department had mooted that user charges utilisation committees be constituted in all institutions.

Dr Ravinder Singh said these committees could be entrusted with the task of utilising the money collected through hiked fee as well as from NRI students. He said it was proposed that each drawing and disbursing officer of the committees would be independent to utilise the money at his disposal for the institution.

He said under this scheme it was proposed to open bank accounts of the committees in which the government would, on its part, keep depositing the revenue received by it on account of hiked fee and NRI fee. He said the proposal was likely to ensure optimum fund utilisation, besides helping in decentralisation of the department.


Padhri Kalan shows path of prosperity
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Padhri Kalan is a village situated close to the border with Pakistan in Amritsar district. In December 1998, it was at the centre-stage of a new experiment aimed at overall and quick development to improve quality of life and income of the rural people. The project was named ‘’Rural demonstration and training centre for self-employment’’.

It was a collaborative effort, involving at macro-level several departments, namely, agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, dairying, fishery and soil conservation. The objectives were clearly defined: make village youth aware of agri-based enterprises; impart them training depending on their aptitude; demonstrate benefits of commercial crops and processing; establish dairy farms; impart low cost crop production technology for high profit margins; promote agro-forestry; and analyse impact of ‘’integrated’’ development of an infrastructure approach on the quality of life and income of people.

Punjab Agricultural University’s Senior Agronomist, Cropping System, Dr M S Gill, was the project coordinator, who had with him Dr S P S Brar, Director, Punjab Agricultural Management and Extension Training Institute, PAU. It was a successful experiment. Had it been replicated in other villages in other districts, it would have transformed rural Punjab. But it did not happen. The change of political guard in February 2002 saw the project wilt for want of financial nourishment. Looking back, those who had nursed and nurtured Padhri Kalan say, ‘’This could have been the only promising way out to uplift villages’’

A compact report on the village’s ‘’success story’ ‘— a case study — unfolds the road-map that Padhri Kalan has shown to the rest of Punjab and the rural youth. The exhaustive village profile ranges from village background to its physical and physiographic characters, population and its occupation to resources or lack of these, cropping patterns and changes effected, problems and their solutions and interventions introduced to change the village economy and ecology and show to the people new avenues of income earning.

The Padhri Kalan project is a living example of the psychological impact of the power of demonstration and training through practical translation of theories and technologies on the field that are often propounded by scientists, economists, ecologists and extension staff. The ‘’integrated’’ approach has helped convince the people of Padhri Kalan that they can be helped to re-construct their lives in their own villages through diversification and determination.

The Budget (2003-04) speech of the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, devotes several paragraphs to agriculture and rural development or the government efforts to wean farmers away from the wheat-paddy rotation or on diversification or challenges posed by the World Trade Organisation or making allocation of Rs 2 crore in the Annual Plan for research and development with stress on bio-technology, tissue culture, water management, post-harvest handling, control of diseases, insects and pests, etc. But there is not a word on projects like Padhri Kalan, which is today like an abandoned child!

Anyone seriously involved in the uplift of rural Punjab would render a service by actually inter-acting with 4,000-odd people of Padhri Kalan. Out of this population, 400 are farming families, depended upon 916 hectares cultivated area (total is 1,038 hectares). Nearly 100 families own less than one hectare and 150 own one hectare to two hectares. The medium (two hectares to four hectares) and large (more than four hectares) farmers were 120 and 31, respectively. This means more than half of 400 farming families fall in the category of small and medium kisan.

Incidentally, in Punjab out of 12 lakh operational holdings, 45 per cent farmers are small and medium, 73 per cent have less than four hectares, covering 33 per cent of the area. The family income of about 50 per cent of these is less than that of an unskilled worker. Thus, Padhri Kalan has shown the way. Will it continue to lead ‘’quality’’ life through ‘’overall and quick’’ development’’ and its transplantation do the same elsewhere too?


Deputy Speakership ‘temporary’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 12
Punjab Deputy Speaker Birdevinder Singh said today at a civic reception held at a local hotel to honour him that the post of Deputy Speaker had been offered to him as a temporary measure by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Speaking at the reception ceremony, Mr Birdevinder Singh said the Chief Minister had asked him to “become the Deputy Speaker for some time” after an exclusive meeting with him following the completion of the Governor’s Address in the Vidhan Sabha. He said this offer had been made after he told the Chief Minister that he would not ask him why he had been left out in the cabinet expansion and that he was with him and should be counted as a friend.

The Deputy Speaker tried to belittle the absence of active Congress party leaders and workers at the civic reception, stating that it was being hosted by friends. Congressmen seemed to have completely boycotted the function, with only two Congress leaders — Mr Rawail Singh Sethi and Mr Ajay Thapar — who are completely out of favour in the present set-up, attending the function. Patiala Welfare Association president Ascharj Singh Anand, senior member Darshan Singh Lobana and Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, an academic, spoke about the contribution of Mr Birdevinder Singh towards the welfare of society.


Cong men scramble for posts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Senior Congress leaders in Punjab have started pressurising the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to appoint them chairpersons of various boards and corporations.

There are several senior leaders, who have been denied party ticket, but were promised to be accommodated elsewhere if the party came to power in the state. Such leaders have been waiting for several months but they have been denied any appointment yet.

Informed sources in the party said senior leaders wanted that party high command should instruct Capt Amarinder Singh not to appoint party MLAs as chairpersons of various corporations and boards.

Already, an hefty increase has been made in the salaries and allowances of MLAs by the government and all of them had been ensured payment of about Rs 35,000 a month.

Senior leaders say as MLAs had been given such financial benefit, they should not be given another benefit by appointing them as chairpersons. Instead, other party leaders who worked for the success of the organisation in the Assembly elections and later in the zila parishad and municipal elections should be appointed as chairpersons.


Panthic Morcha for Akali unity
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 12
The Panthic Morcha today said it was in favour of unity among various factions of the Akali Dal. However, due to differences among some leaders of different groups, unity could be forged.

Mr Gurdeep Singh Brar, media in charge of the party, said this in a statement issued here today. He alleged that the former Punjab Chief Minister and SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, put the interests of party at stake for personal gains and it was one of the reasons for the emergence of different Akali Dals.

He said the Panthic Morcha was in favour of one president, one symbol and one constitution of the Akali Dal.


‘Current duty charge’ norms revised
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 12
Following the lifting of the ban on promotions, the Department of Local Bodies, in a move affecting senior posts, has cleared “current duty charge” postings in civic bodies.

According to sources in the Local Government, the Secretary, Local Bodies, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, in a circular, has said the policy on ‘current duty charge’ postings has been changed.

According to the instructions, the “charge” should be assigned only to a person with an ‘impeccable’ record. A person could be denied “current duty charge” of a senior position even though he may be, the seniormost if “he/she holds an adverse annual confidential report (ACR) or has been charge-sheeted.”

Only meritorious and seniormost persons in the cadre who have been cleared for promotion on account of their unblemished record can be eligible to get the “charge”, which should only be a short-term measure and also in exceptional cases only.


Punjab to launch awareness drive
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 12
Punjab which has the lowest sex ratio of girls in India will be the first state in the country to publicise the amendments to the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PNDT Act, 1994) to create awareness among ultrasonologists and other sections of society. A massive awareness campaign has been launched in the State. This was stated by Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, at the concluding day of a two-day workshop on female foeticide here today.

Dr Sandhu also referred to the inadequacy of the Act in dealing with the problem. He, however, disclosed that 22 FIRs of violation of the PNDT Act had been registered in the state. In 12 cases, either ultrasound machines had been sealed or the registration of the centre had been suspended temporarily.

Dr A.S. Nagpal, District Coordinator, NGOs Health Department, Ludhiana, and Ms Asmita Basu from the Lawyers’ Collective, New Delhi, mentioned that the Act had been labelled as being ‘vague’, ‘anti-doctors’ and above all a measure to deprive women of the benefits of modern technology. Prof Sherry Sabharwal of Panjab University, Chandigarh, brought to the consideration the fact that sex determination might be done at one place and abortion at another. It was suggested that the implementation of the Act should not encroach on the individual rights of women as it is happening in the case of a model project being implemented in Ludhiana.

Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary to Government of Punjab, said the Punjab Government suggestion of sealing and confiscation of ultrasound machines had been accepted by the Central Government. To make the PNDT Act effective, there was a need for setting up a strong legal framework, scientific monitoring and effective enforcement of law, he said.

The general trend of presentations and interventions at the seminar, however, painted a grim picture of the situation in Punjab and elsewhere in the country and emphasised the need for urgent and effective measures to check the declining trend of sex ratio of girls. It was pointed by participants that much of the problems were caused by female foeticide and infanticide. The legislation in this regard would not help much unless active community participation was achieved in the enforcement of the Act and the implementation of various plans for women empowerment.

Ms B. Bhamathi highlighted that the governments had in the recent past adopted norms on family size to control population growth.

Incentives / disincentives are neither necessary, just or effective. It is a myth to believe that “control” mechanism can lead to desired results and the policy unleashes disastrous effects for gender discrimination, she added.

Prof S.L. Sharma, sociologist, said there was a need to study why there was an increase in sex ratio in Punjab after 1991 and a decline in 1991-2001. Linkages of dowry with son preference needed to be studied, he said.

Mr S.P. Sharma, Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Haryana, said for a meaningful impact, it was essential that a constituency interested in finding solutions was created to work in collaboration with the government. The NSS and the NCC could be utilized for advocating and spreading awareness.

Representative of some NGOs active in the field like the Action India and the National Foundation of India presented some case histories.

Gujarat’s 0-6 sex ratio fell from a relatively better 950 in 1981 to a perceptively low of 878 in 2001, while boasting of a per capital income of Rs. 18,625 in 2001. However, other states such as Rajasthan and Bihar also reflect the same trend, and even a sharper decline in the 0-6 sex ratio than, for instance, the ‘developed’ state of Maharashtra. Bihar’s 0-6 ratio was 981 and declined by 43 points to 938 in 2001, and Rajasthan’s figure dropped by 45 during the same period, whereas Maharashtra, which is illustrated as a highly developed state recorded a decrease in its sex ratio by 39 points in the same period. These were the views expressed by Dr Debjani Ghosh, Ms Gauri Chaudhary and Dr Rainuka Dagar.

Justice Sujata Manohar, member, National Human Rights Commission, mentioned that the illegal practice backed by social legitimacy has led to the aggravation of the crisis.

The Malwa belt has consistently recorded the poorest sex ratio in the state. Doaba has had the most favourable sex ratio — always above the state average — and Majha has had sex ratio near the state average.


Skewed sex ratio is age-old
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 12
An analysis of the sex-ratio pattern in Punjab has revealed a historical consistency in this aspect among various regional belts. 


* While population has become developed, it still has given rise to female foeticide.

* Women’s education and access to health facilities do not protect women from gender abuse.

* Female foeticide is higher in upper income groups

* Improvement in work participation and skills of woman has not helped in transcending gender hierarchy.

* Sex ratio has been imbalanced even before the pre-birth sex-selection techniques came in.

In a survey conducted by the Institute for Development and Communication (IDC) Chandigarh, regional belts with lower sex ratio were found to be high on other atrocities against women as well. Malwa recorded more incidents of wife beating, rape, sexual exploitation and bigamy than any other region.

The Malwa region, characterised by its feudal traditions and late agricultural development, is considered to be a “socially backward” area of Punjab and the study shows that, historically, Ropar and Ludhiana districts have always recorded the lowest sex ratio. On the other hand, Hoshiarpur in the Doaba belt has always had a sex ratio far above the state average. Another analysis shows that the male child has always been given more importance in Jat families.

Dr Rainuka Dagar, a senior research fellow of the IDC, in her study on ‘Rethinking Perspectives on Female Foeticide’, has questioned almost every presumption regarding female foeticide in Punjab.

She says that isolating a form of female violence from its causal linkages will lead to the identification of a wrong set of problems, which will be followed by fruitless efforts to find solutions to these “wrong” problems.

The study shows that even if there is a correct perception of the problem, the remedy is limited. It says: ‘‘Female foeticide is analysed as an autonomous phenomenon causing a sharp decline in sex ratio, and the solution is given to be the PNDT Act. Still, the impact of the law has been found to be dismal.”


Wanting to be nurse, forced into prostitution
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 12
When Manpreet (name changed), a teenaged girl, left her home situated in one of the towns of Punjab to become a nurse, little did she know that destiny had something else in store for her. Instead of becoming a nurse as promised by her “anuny” she was allegedly forced into prostitution.

On Thursday Manpreet was admitted to the local Civil Hospital as she needed medical case after allegedly being raped by five residents of Dabwali town of neighbouring Haryana. Her condition is stated to be stable.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the police came to know about the plight of Manpreet when she was arrested in an immoral traffick racket along with her aunty, Gurmeet Kaur. But when it was found that she needed immediate medical attention she was admitted to the hospital. Her medical examination was also conducted.

Police sources said Manpreet came into contact of Gurmeet Kaur, who was running an immoral traffick racket. She took Manpreet her house when “customers” used to come. She gradually got involved in the raket and was forced into prostitution.

Police sources said the Haryana police was informed regarding the registration of a case against five residents of Dabwali town, but the police authorities concerned did not take any action.


Bajwa vows sops for Kahnuwan area
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 12
Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Public Works Minister, while talking to newsmen at Kahnuwan near here, today said the Batala-Dera Baba Nanak road would be widened from 18 feet to 23 feet keeping in view the historical importance of Dera Baba Nanak. The road would also be strenghthened. The exercise would cost the government Rs. 3.14 crore and it would be implemented during the current year.

Mr Bajwa said since the traffic on the Sathiali bridge near Kahnuwan had increased manifold, the bridge was being widened and electric lights would be put up on it.

He said with the Kahnuwan and Sekhwan villages having been chosen under the Sunder Gram Scheme, the villages would be provided with water supply and sewerage, lights, pucca drains and storm water outlets.

A bridge over the Kahnuwan swamp drain opposite Gurdwara Ghallughara would be built at a cost of Rs 60 lakh.

The ITI, Nainakot, would start functioning from the current academic session with 24 trades.


PSSSB ex-chief presents bail bond
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 12
Tajinder Pal Singh Sandhu, former Chairman of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB), who has been booked by the Vigilance on a charge of corruption today produced a bail bond and surety of Rs 25,000 each in the court of the Special Judge, Ropar, Mr A.S. Kathuria.

Mr Sandhu was earlier granted interim bail in the case by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the condition that he would furnish a bail bond of Rs 25,000 in the trial court at Ropar. Mr Sandhu, however, presented the said in the court of Judicial Magistrate, Kharar.

Mr Sandhu, in an affidavit submitted in the trial court of Ropar admitted the mistake committed by him by not presenting himself before the court. The Judge, after submitting his affidavit, allowed him to deposit a bail bond of Rs 25,000 as per the directions of the high court.


New pay panel sought
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 12
The Punjab State Services Federation today demanded the setting up of a new pay commission for state employees and upward revision of emoluments of industrial and agricultural workers in both organised and unorganised sectors.

A resolution to this effect was passed at a meeting of the Joint State Working Committee of the Punjab State Services Federation, Punjab Kirti Dal and PSEB Employees Federation, according to services federation president and former MP Charanjit Singh Walia. The Akali leader also demanded immediate starting of dialogue with the federation.


3-day Baisakhi sammelan starts
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 12
Over 300 foreign-based and Indian scholars are participating in the three-day Baisakhi mahasamelan, which started today at the Hoshiarpur-based headquarters of the Manvata Mandir, a social organisation.

Mr Anurag Sood, a trustee of the organisation, said apart from Hindu saints and scholars, deliberations would also be made by representatives of Qadian-based Ahmadiya sect, which would organise a free homoeopathic and allopathic medical camp on the Sutehri Road premises of the orgnaisation from April 12 to 14.

He further said an all-religion two-hour-long “sarb dharam sammelan” would be organised at 4 p.m. on April 14.


Martyrs’ kin being ‘denied jobs’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 12
Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president, Lok Bhalai Party, said here today that kin of martyrs were being denied jobs by the government.

Mr Ramoowalia, while addressing a press conference, said the non-serious attitude of the government towards the problems of families of ex-servicemen and kin of martyrs was highly condemnable. He said he had been taking up the matter with the higher authorities.

He announced that a committee would be set up by his party to advocate the interests of those girls whose husbands had not turned up from abroad after marrying them.


Rare surgery performed
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 12
Dr Sanjay Narad, orthopaedic surgeon, has fully performed a total knee replacement surgery at a local hospital. The patient who had been operated upon was a 68-year-old NRI woman Ms Ranjit Kaur of Adampur. She was suffering from severe pain in her knees due to which she was unable to move and was limping. The surgery has enabled her to walk comfortably.

Talking to mediapersons in the hospital yesterday, where she is recuperating said she was glad that she had undergone the surgery and was willing to get her other knee operated.


Improve’ quality of ayurvedic medicines
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 12
Dr G.L. Goyal, Director, Ayurveda, Punjab, said today that the companies should adopt good manufacturing practices (GMP) to improve the standards of ayurvedic medicines being manufactured.

Dr Goyal, who was here in connection with the meeting of medical officers, said the traditional Indian system of medicine had been gaining immence popularity worldwide. He said the state government was serious in implementing various centre-sponsored schemes and the “panch karma” therapy would be introduced shortly in the state-run ayurvedic hospitals. He met a section of manufacturers and urged them to implement GMP, licences for which were being issued by the authorities concerned, he added.

Later, while meeting a deputation of the ayurvedic medical officers and pharmacists he assured them of looking into the individual problems of the employees. He said the demand of ayurvedic compounders to change their designation to ayurvedic pharmacist would be recommended to the government.


Academies deface walls
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 12
Come the season of examination and competitive tests, countless academies and coaching centres start doing brisk business much to the chagrin of the owners of the centres’ buildings.

As a large number of coaching centres have mushroomed in the city, the competition to “capture” the best location for pasting their advertisement posters is hotting up. The posters of these coaching centres can be seen on almost all government buildings, colleges, residential buildings and the problem is more intense at places which have high visibility from roads or parking places. This despite instructions put on the buildings for not using their boundary wall for advertisements.

Mr Amrit Pal Singh Sidhu, resident of the local Ajit Road, said the area was dotted with a large number of coaching centres, which had been defacing the walls of their houses.


BKU leaders differ over ‘rail rako’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Serious differences have cropped up among senior leaders of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) headed by Mr Baldev Singh Mianpur over the call given for “rail roko” agitation on April 15 by certain leaders of his organisation.

Mr Baldev Singh Mianpur, President of the BKU, in a statement today said the decision regarding “rail roko” had not been approved by the executive of the organisation. It was personal decision of few leaders of the BKU.


A clarification

In the news item “G.S. Chahal put under suspension” (April 7) the Joint Director ‘s name has been wrongly printed. The relevant sentence should read thus: “Dr Har Surat Singh, Joint Director, Animal Husbandry, will hold additional charge of the post of Director till further orders.”


Farmers rush to Gujarat to buy Bt cottonseed
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 12
Many farmers of the Malwa region have reportedly left for Gujarat to arrange Bt cottonseed from the open market.

Cotton growers are shocked over the reported denial by the Union Government to Punjab Agriculture University to go ahead with Bt. cotton sowing in the state. PAU scientists’ panel had, after three year’s experiment, recommended that Bt. cotton could replace the existing varieties which were friendly to the pests, including American bollworm besides leaf curl.

According to a survey cotton growers had spent Rs 4,500 to Rs 6,000 per acre on the spray of insecticides last year. Some of them resorted to spray as many as 20 times to save their produce. Others opted for sugarcane growing but were frustrated over the fate of the produce. They regret that the cooperative sugar mills had not improved their working despite change of government. The cane growers were not promptly paid price of the produce by the mills, nor the mills could consume the total produce speedily. The farmers preferred to sell sugarcane for the drought hit areas of Rajasthan at a price better than Punjab against cash payment.

The farmers are again keen on sowing cotton as there has been an spurt in the rates of cotton. But the decision of the Union Government to ban Bt. cotton sowing in the state for another year has demoralised a majority of the farmers. They said the Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, had assured them last year that Bt. cotton sowing would be allowed in Punjab.


Romila Dubey is Principal Secretary, Tourism
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Within 48 hours, the Punjab Government has reversed its order on the transfer of Mrs Romila Dubey from the Tourism Department. On April 10, Mrs Dubey was relieved of the additional charge of Principal Secretary, Tourism. In her place, Ms Kusumjit Sidhu was appointed Secretary, Tourism.

But the government today restored the Tourism Department to Mrs Dubey by posting her its Principal Secretary. The order issued in this connection says that the “further posting order of Ms Kusumjit Sidhu would be issued later”. Mr Baljit Singh, ADC (Development), has been given additional charge of the Administrator of Improvement Trust, Amritsar.


Seven depot holders booked
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 12
The police has booked nine ration depot holders for irregularities in the distribution of kerosene under the public distribution system (PDS).

A press release here yesterday, said that District Food and Supplies Controller, in his complaint to the police had said that the central flying squad constituted by the state government conducted surprise raids on the premises of various ration depots in the district to check irregularities.

During the raids, it was found that several depot holders had committed irregularities in the distribution of kerosene. They were identified as Raman Ohri, Jaswinder Singh, Buta Singh, Roshan Lal, Amarjit, Trasem Lal, Dheeraj Kumar, Malwa Oil Store, Kartarpur and Guru Nanak Oil Store.

A case under Sections 406, 420 of the IPC and Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act has been registered.

Meanwhile, a case has been registered against Balbir Singh of Abadi Salempur here, for duping Raj Kumar of Rs 2 lakh on the pretext of sending him to Italy.


Hawala racket unearthed, 2 held

Jalandhar, April 12
The Jalandhar police has claimed to have unearthed hawala racket with the arrest of two persons and recovery of Rs 1.40 lakh.

District police chief Varinder Kumar stated here today that a police party of Nakodar intercepted two persons riding on a two-wheeler near Jalandhar bypass yesterday evening. Their search led to the recovery of Rs 1.40 lakh in denomination of Rs 500.

Lather, both persons identified as Jaspal Singh and Paramjit Singh, alias Pamma, revealed that they had been carrying the money as a part of Hawala transaction. The police chief added.

During preliminary interrogation the accused revealed that they were a part of an international hawala gang and one Ashok Kumar statimed in Dubai used to telephone them to deliver certain amount of cash to certain persons, the police chief said.

In another case, one person identified as Babu Ram, alias Sohan Lal, has been arrested by the Goraya police under the NDPS Act for carrying 2 kg of opium, he added. PTI


One held for rice theft
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 12
The police today claimed to have busted an interstate gang, which stole foodgrains from godowns of the FCI.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said in a statement issued today that on the intervening night of April 4 and 5, thieves had stolen 70 bags of rice from a godown situated on the Bhucho Mandi-Lehra Bega road, about 15 km from here. A case in this connection was registered at the Nathana police station under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC on April 5.

He said the police had arrested Rutash Boria of Badopal village in Rajasthan, Swaran Boria of Tehna village in Faridkot district and Rajpal Boria of Rampura. He said the suspects had been arrested along with 20 bags of stolen rice last evening.

The suspects reportedly told the police that they used to sell the stolen rice to shopkeeper of Bhucho Mandi, Hari Krishan. He has also been arrested and 40 bags of stolen rice recovered from his wheat flour mill. The SSP said the gang used to break windowpanes of godowns and load the rice in their vehicles.


Travel agents booked
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 12
The Jalandhar police has registered cases pertaining to cheating of people aspiring to go abroad against travel agents.

Mangat Ram, and his wife Parmijit Kaur, hailing from Ladhuwal in Ludhiana, and Subhash Chander and his wife Asha Rani of Muthade village near Phillaur, were booked on a complaint filed by Mr Charanjit Singh, a resident of Chitti, who alleged that he was sent to Thailand instead of Italy by the suspects after taking Rs 2.5 lakh.

Similarly, four cases of cheating have been registered against travel agent Gagan Bakshi and his employees, who allegedly duped four persons of Rs 3 lakh.


47 beggars arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 12
The police yesterday apprehended 47 beggars from different areas of the city. Fourteen cases were registered under the Prevention of Begging Act, 1971, at five police stations.

The beggars were arrested mainly from the railway station area, the bus stand area and near some shrines in the city.


210 kg of poppy husk seized, 1 held

Moga, April 12
The police said today that it had arrested a man and seized the car in which he was allegedly carrying 210 kg of poppy husk for supplying it to addicts of the region.

District police chief Major Singh Dhillon said here today that the suspect identified as Sukhwinder Singh of Jagraon was arrested under the NDPS Act.

He said a police party had stopped the car last night near Chuhar Chak village being driven by Sukhwinder and the vehicle’s search led to the recovery of the poppy. PTI


Patwari held for taking bribe

Malerkotla, April 12
The Vigilance Bureau yesterday arrested a patwari, posted at Kothala village under the Malerkotla subdivision, on charges of accepting a bribe of Rs 2,000 from a villager for the ‘intqaal’ of his agricultural land.

According to information, Inderjit Singh, a resident of Kothala, complained to the Vigilance Bureau that the patwari, Vir Devinder Singh, was demanding Rs 2000 for the ‘intqaal’ of his land. UNI


State to get national law school
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 12
The Advocate-General of Punjab, Mr Harbhagwan Singh, said today that Capt Amarinder Singh had agreed in principle to establish a national school of law at a cost of Rs 50 crore in the state on the pattern of Bangalore. He said cyber crime was increasing manifold and our lawyers and police were not equipped with the required expertise to detect them.

Talking to the Press before awarding degrees to the law graduates of Guru Nanak Dev University here today, Mr Harbhagwan Singh said only one person had been prosecuted in the state in connection cyber crime.

Answering a question, the Advocate-General agreed that there should be some independent agency which should initiate action against the ‘guilty’ police officials. He, however, hastened to add that senior police officials and representatives of the human rights commission should be included in the proposed panel.

On the 100-year-old jail manual he said it had become obsolete and the need of the hour was bring changes. He further said there were many clauses which needed to be amended. Another point was that the statutory book continued to have the provision of a Executive Magistrate while it comes under the purview of judiciary only.

Mr Harbhagwan Singh lamented the pitiable condition of jails in the state. He said he would recommend to the state government to give better facilities to inmates.

When asked whether the state would fight the legal battle for police officials languishing in jails, he said it (the state) might provide legal aid to those who were genuinely involved while fighting terrorism in the past.

Later, Vice-Chancellor S.P. Singh and the Advocate-General conferred 125 degrees upon students which included 50 LLB (three years), 75 LLB (five years) students.


Now it is students vs Saru Rana
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 12
Punjabi University Fine Arts Department students today appealed to Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai to review his decision to exempt former student Saru Rana, who had accused former Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia of attempting to rape her, from reappearing in two practical examinations of MA(part-II) while reappearing for the examination this year, after failing in it last year.

The Vice-Chancellor had, through a special order, exempted Saru Rana from reappearing in the two practical examinations in which she had secured 81 and 83 per cent marks, stating that this decision had been taken on humanitarian grounds seeing the “suffering” inflicted on her. Saru now has to give only two theory papers, in which she had secured 20 out of 80 marks last year.

The students have represented to the Vice-Chancellor, hoping that though they appreciated his humanistic concern and attitude towards students, this would not be confined to just one privileged student only. The representation said that according to the university calendar, if a student failed in two papers he or she had to appear in all papers again in three years time and no exemption had been given on this count to any student in the 40-year-old history of the university .

The students said the exemption to a private candidate had put the MA (part II) students to a disadvantage as they had to prepare for four papers vis a vis Saru Rana who had to prepare for two papers. They said besides this a circular of general instructions by the Controller, Examinations, had directed examiners to give marks in practical examinations in consonance with marks obtained in theory papers. They said this meant that none of them would be given marks similar to those awarded to Saru Rana.

The students said such kind of privilege to any student could not be justified legally, academically or morally.

The students also claimed if “suffering” was the only reason for giving exemption to Saru Rana, then other students of the department should also be given concession. They said the students, who had been sitting on hunger strikes to protect the reputation of the department and the university, being targeted by some vested interests, should also be given due weightage. The application has been signed by 12 students of both the first and second year of the department.


Hike in college fee unjustified: Mittal
Tribune Reporters

Ropar, April 12
Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, the former Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Punjab, has flayed the hike in college fee effected by the Congress Government. Addressing a press conference at Ropar yesterday Mr Mittal alleged that the steep hike in fee effected by the Congress Government would make higher education unaffordable for the poor.

With the recent hike in college fee the annual fee for a student doing simple graduation would go up from Rs 3000 per annum to about Rs 10,200 per annum.

It was unfortunate that while the Congress Government was hiking the perks on the MLAs and spending crores on providing them with new facilities, it was putting financial burden on students by hiking their fee.

Mr Mittal also described the removal of Mr Badal and other Akali leaders from the Anandpur Sahib Foundation as illegal. The Anandpur Sahib Foundation was a registered society and its office-bearers could only be removed through election among the members. Moreover, Mr Badal, according to the constitution of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation, was the lifetime member of the society. The government had violated all legal provisions by removing him from the society.

JALANDHAR: The Higher Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, on Friday justified the recent hike in fee of colleges and universities by saying that the hike was must to improve the standard of education in the state. “The fee hike is necessitated as it was very difficult for the government to improve the standard of education in government colleges and universities with the previous fee structure inforce” Mr Johar said here.


NGOs may take over govt schools
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 12
The Punjab Government is contemplating handing over of the administration of government schools to non-government organisations (NGOs) to make the schools’ functioning more effective.

This was stated by Prof Darbari Lal, Minister of State for Education, Punjab, in his address at the prize distribution function organised by the Punjab Rural Education Promotion Council at Government Senior Secondary School, Sheron, 8-km from here, today.

He further said the state government was soon going to fill 17,000 posts of teacher in government schools. Mr Jagir Singh, former minister, and Dr Dharamveer Agnihotri, former sarpanch of Sheron village, were among those who spoke on the occasion.


Singla highlights role of technical education
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 12
The annual function of Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology concluded here yesterday. Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, was the chief guest. He highlighted the role of engineering and technical education in the modern society.

Gurpreet Singh Ghughi, Punjabi comedian, who also attended the function, said the college had earned a name for itself in the field of technical education.

Prof Bhupinderpal Singh, in-charge, cultural wing of the college, said students were being given a fair chance to develop their artistic abilities. He said two coordinators, Prof Mohinder Singh and Prof Harish Garg, helped the wing.

The following students stood first in respective competitions. Neha Malhotra and group — western dance; Sugandha and group— Hindi group dance; Sanjeev Kumar and group — choreography; Sonia— solo dance; Navneet Garg—instrumental music (solo); Harpreet Singh and group— qawalli; Dinesh and Rupinder—duet song; Ramesh Kumar—Hindi solo song; Ishu Sharma— mimicry; Ankush Singla— skit and Vrinda Sharma and group — sell well.


Techfiesta’ concludes
Our Correspondent

Malout, April 12
The two-day technology festival “Techfiesta”, organised by the Malout Institute of Management and Technology (MIMIT), concluded here yesterday.

Events relating to software development, hacking and creative writing aroused much interest. Dr Gurdip Singh, Principal of the institute, in a press note issued here today said students from about 20 colleges, in North India had participated.

Mrs Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, stressed the need for quality education and competition in the opened-up economy.

The results of various competitions held were as follows; (Paper presentation) Jaspreet Kaur (MIMIT) 1;general quiz — Nadeem Khan and Aditya Badhwar (MIMIT) 1; Technical quiz — Gurpreet Singh and Aditya Badhwar (MIMIT) 1; on the spot software development — Saurabh Jain and Rachit Jain (PCIT, Patiala) 1; debate — Mohit Hotchandani (MIMIT), 1; rangoli — Neha and Beenu (MIMIT) 1; brushless painting — Vijay Chawla (BMSCE Muktsar) 1; collage making —Niharika Nanda and Sumeet Singh (MIMIT) 1; instrumental music (solo) — Amandeep (flute), Guru Nanak Engineering College, Ludhiana 1; song (solo) — Upasana(MIMIT)1; song (group) — MIMIT teams; and software submission — Pawan Kumar and Madhu Sudan, LKC, Jalandhar.

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